Now in its 19th year, the Real Life Stories program recognizes exemplary service and expert financial advice and assistance to clients in times of great financial need. This year’s winners bring to life stories of families who have been faced with hardship due to the unexpected death of a loved one or long-term illness. The program aims to raise awareness of the crucial importance of seeking professional insurance advice as part of a sound financial plan. Millions of Americans remain uneducated about the insurance options available without the guidance of an agent or advisor.
“This year, Life Happens’ Insurance Barometer Study showed that less than one-third of adults have a financial advisor or agent,” said Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, President and CEO of Life Happens. “People underestimate the importance of expert advice to ensure the financial protection of their families. The insurance agents highlighted in this year’s Real Life Stories program and the stories of the lives they’ve impacted serve as a reminder of how important it is to seek professional guidance. Having adequate insurance protection, including the right amount and the right policy to fit your needs, is a crucial part of responsible financial planning.”
The four recipients, along with their clients, will be honored in San Diego, Calif. hosted by Life Happens and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA). The presentation will take place on Monday, September 8, 2014. A free simulcast will be available online at www.lifehappens.org/RLS2014.
The 2014 Life Happens Real Life Stories honorees are:
- Melissa Mlasko, Futurity First, Medford, Ore.: Melissa’s clients, Jim and Judy, were high school sweethearts who later married and had recently entered retirement. Judy had just come to Melissa for help with transitioning from her employer’s health plan to Medicare when she learned that her breast cancer had returned and spread. Melissa researched Judy’s group life insurance policy and coordinated an accelerated death benefit rider, which allowed the couple to live out Judy’s last days free of financial worry. Jim is now able to access funds through Judy’s life insurance proceeds to supplement his retirement income.
- Steve Edmondson, State Farm©, San Clemente, Calif.: Steve helped his clients Ron and Kelli find permanent life insurance coverage, which offered the couple both financial protection and a means to accumulate cash value. This forward-looking plan proved useful when the couple was able to access funds from their life insurance policies to help with a down payment for their dream home. Later on when money became tight, the couple considered canceling their life insurance, but Steve advised against it and increased their coverage while helping them cut unnecessary spending. Just three years later, Kelli suddenly died of heart failure and now, thanks to her life insurance policy, Ron and their two sons are able to stay in the home they love.
- Larry Ricke, Ricke & Associates, New Albany, Ind.: When Larry’s client Valerie transitioned from her medical residency to practicing as an emergency room physician, her group long-term disability insurance plan was going to terminate so she switched to an individual disability income insurance policy. When a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis later worsened and she was unable to work, the insurance coverage helped her care for her young daughters as a single parent. Valerie later remarried, and Larry recommended that her new husband Tim apply for a disability income insurance policy with MassMutual. Later, Tim fell ill due to an undiagnosed aneurism and heart valve issue, and he too found himself unable to work. Thanks to their individual disability income insurance policies, the family was able to keep their home and remain financially stable.
- Steve Sabo, Sabo Financial Group, Boulder, Colo.: Steve helped advise one of his small business owner clients, Scott, to purchase adequate insurance to ensure he was covered both at work and at home. Steve helped Scott and his business partner, David, put in place a buy-sell agreement funded with life insurance that would make sure his business could survive in the event of his death. It would also protect his wife Cathy and their children. When Scott’s business grew, Steve advised him to increase both his personal and business life insurance coverage. Tragically, Scott died in a paddle boarding accident. Thankfully, the policy through Scott’s business enabled Cathy to gain compensation from Scott’s portion of the company without becoming an owner. Now, Cathy and her daughters have time to grieve without financial worry.
This year’s Real Life Stories are available to companies and insurance professionals in the form of engaging videos that can be used to help educate clients about the importance of insurance planning. The stories will also be included in a new Life Happens digital advertising campaign kicking off during Life Insurance Awareness Month in September. In addition to the Real Life Stories videos, there is a whole host of LIAM-related resources, including many featuring the 2014 LIAM Spokesperson, Boomer Esiason, available on Life Happens’ industry site. To access all the resources, Life Happens members must register and login to www.lifehappens.org/industry.
Life Happens is accepting applications for the 2015 program, starting September 1, 2014 until January 2, 2015. Licensed insurance professionals and team members are encouraged to visit www.lifehappens.org/reallife to submit their best client success story and receive more information.
About Life Happens
Life Happens is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping consumers take personal financial responsibility through the ownership of life insurance and related products. The organization does not endorse any product, company or insurance advisor. Since its inception in 1994, Life Happens has provided the highest quality, independent and objective information for people seeking help with their insurance buying decisions. The organization supports the insurance industry by providing marketing tools and resources and convening the industry each September for Life Insurance Awareness Month. Life Happens is supported by more than 140 of the nation’s leading insurance company and financial services organizations. To learn more, visit www.lifehappens.org.